Christal Sczebel, C.H.N. Nutritionist in the Kitch
Ah, the second trimester… the most blissful stage of pregnancy. For most women, the second trimester feels like much more of a “breeze” than the first. Usually by this time morning sickness has faded away and many women experience a burst of energy, finding they can get off the couch and get back into the regular swing of life. At least that was my personal experience!
During this period, baby development is still continuing at a steady rate and it’s usually during these few months that Mom will finally begin to feel the kicks, flutters, and pops of the little life growing inside her womb.
When it comes to nutrition, there are some specific nutrients to focus on during this period that will help keep mom energized and healthy, along with supporting optimal fetal growth and development. When it comes to calories, the second trimester brings along a need for a small caloric increase of about 200-300 calories per day. Nothing huge, but enough to warrant an extra snack, such as a handful of nuts and an apple, or a larger serving size at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Taking a prenatal vitamin is fantastic as this supplement provides that assurance that both mom and baby are both getting what they need, but I do think there should be an extra focus placed on the intake of fibre, vitamin D, iron, and omega fatty acids during this second trimester… Here’s why:
Fibre: During pregnancy there is an increase of hormones including progesterone which can naturally slow digestion, added pressure on the intestinal tract from the growing babe, and a potential lack of activity and fluids, which can all lead to constipation. This dreaded symptom is all too common during pregnancy so focusing on a good intake of fibre, around 30-35g per day, is important. I recommend consuming a variety of fibre rich foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds like chia seed and flaxseed. This simple Rich & Creamy Chocolate Chia Avocado Smoothie is not only delicious, but a great source of fibre!
Vitamin D: Fetal needs for Vitamin D increase during the second half of pregnancy and the intake of this vitamin during pregnancy has been linked to a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, premature birth, and infections. While prenatal supplements do contain Vitamin D, I recommend additional focus on take through food and even an extra vitamin D supplement as women who take larger doses around 1,000-4,000 IU are half as likely to develop gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and they are less likely to give birth prematurely. Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs, and mushrooms. This Ginger Soy Poached Salmon dish is a great way to get in more vitamin D!
Iron: During pregnancy blood volume in the body doubles! A pregnant woman needs sufficient iron to make this extra blood and to help circulate oxygen through the body for mom and baby. It’s not uncommon for women to experience iron-deficient anemia from a lack of iron during pregnancy which can lead to worsened fatigue. While prenatal supplements contain iron, it’s important to focus on consuming iron rich foods regularly which includes leafy greens, beans, red meat, dried fruits, and molasses. These Gingerbread & Dark Chocolate Energy Balls contain iron-rich molasses and will satisfy any second-trimester sweet tooth!
Omega Fatty Acids: Fats have long received a bad reputation, but during pregnancy, certain dietary fats are no less than essential for fetal health and development. Consuming foods rich in omega fatty acids or supplementing with an omega-rich supplement during pregnancy helps with brain development and has been shown to improve childhood development after the baby is born. Foods rich in these healthy omega fatty acids include fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, and eggs. Try this Vitality Superfood Salad with nuts, avocado, and chia seeds!
While there is a lot to remember during pregnancy, during the second trimester, make a note of these “fabulous four” nutrients to ensure you and baby are getting all the goodness you need!
Christal Sczebel is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and Published Author based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is owner of a private nutrition practice, Pure & Simple Nutrition, with a team of practitioners focused on helping their clients discover optimal health. Christal is also the owner and writer of Nutritionist in the Kitch, a website filled with her recipe creations, food photography, ramblings, and a selection of online nutrition guides and programs that help readers reach their best health through nutrition and living well. Her cookbook Energy Balls was published in early 2017 and she is currently working on her second cookbook publishing in January of 2018.
Christal is happily married and they are expecting their first little bundle of joy in May of 2017. She loves to travel, spend time with friends and family, write, experiment with recipes and photography, and stay healthy and active. You will often find Christal planning her next adventurous getaway eager to explore new healthy foods on the horizon!